Jesus or Barabbas? Privilege of Choice
In the home of Mr. And Mrs. Oxley, Liverpool, Brother Oxley told us that the funeral procession of David Livingstone was one of the greatest London has ever seen. He said, “In the great throng, a shabbily-dressed man fought his way through the crowd to see the funeral procession go by. The crowd rebuked him, but he cried out, “I have a right to see David Livingstone; I know him better than any of you. We were in Sunday school together. He decided for Christ; I decided against Him.”
Bible tells us that God has given us the privilege of choice. He has not deputed a police officer around us to grab us by the neck and say you must read your Bible, or you must go to Church, or you should follow Christ. With free will, we make choices and reap their consequences. In Luke 23:13-25, the law teachers, elders and whole assembly brought Jesus to Pilate for prosecution. Several times Pilate announced Jesus’ innocence (Lk. 23:4, 14,15,22), and Herod also couldn’t find any fault that may give Jesus a death sentence, but nothing convinced the religious leaders. They put heavy pressure upon the Roman government to convict Jesus. These religious leaders preferred to be with a well-known sinner than with the One who could forgive their sins. What an irony of life! The evil tactics blinded these religious leaders. Even today, wars, crusades, holocaust, mob lynching, brutal rape-and-murder of many women and children, jihad, honour killing, terrorism, and corruption result from our spiritual blindness.
In Matthew 27: 17, Pilate very aptly asked their choice: ‘Which one do you want me to release to you, (Jesus) Barabbas or Jesus called Messiah?” The crowd shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us! (Lk. 23:18). It was the choice between the son of the worldly father over the Son of the Heavenly Father (Messiah). By opting Barabbas, people chose wickedness over righteousness. They chose evil over goodness; darkness over light; ungodliness over godliness; murder over innocence; immorality over morality; and destruction over salvation. They did not know what they were doing by choosing Barabbas. John Henry Jowett writes, “When I chose revenge, rather than forgiveness, I am preferring Barabbas to Christ…How often I have sent sweet healer to the Cross, and welcomed the murderer within my gate! When I choose carnal passion before holiness, I am preferring Barabbas to Christ.” We are called to choose between the destroyer of life and the Giver of life!
On the other hand, Jesus, our Savior, chose to die for Barabbas, those who crucified Him, and for the rest of the wicked generations. He exchanged His place for all our fatal places, but we often don’t take His sacrifice seriously. Barabbas comes in the form of choices we make every day, either big or small. By choosing Barabbas in our day-to-day life, we crucify Jesus daily. God gave free will to Adam and Eve, but they made a wrong choice by disobeying God and ultimately, God’s creation came under sin and curse. Judah Iscariot preferred to betray Jesus just for thirty silver coins, but he was caught in the death trap. The Bible cautions us in Mathew 7 to choose between the narrow gate or the broad gate; between true prophets or false prophets, faithful disciples or false disciples; and a wise builder or foolish builder. The choice is ours. God has given us free will and expects us to use it wisely. For C. P. Hia, ‘God cares so much about us that He gives us boundary lines so that we will choose what is right.’ His Word and His Son are the only means for the believers to make the right decisions. Following Jesus is accepting God’s will in our lives. Choices made in God’s guidance and fear bring blessings protection against evil attacks and lead us into a bright and secure future. Many youngsters make wrong choices as they get attracted by worldly desires. Often it gets too late, but God’s compassionate arms are always open like that of the prodigal son’s father, ready to receive. Let Jesus Christ be our Choice.
Rev. Samuel Richmond